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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)

TITLE: Parched Ground
By Veronica Winley


It was a lovely restaurant, with dim lights in copper wall sconces and the wait staff dressed in black shirts and pants with white bow ties. She had read about it in one of the “upscale” magazines she loved to pore over and which always made her own life seem so commonplace. When her husband suggested they go out for their 30th wedding anniversary, she immediately thought of Blackstone. Even the name sounded elegant. Of course, it was not what he had in mind. He would have preferred the place where they went on their usual “date”; a family style restaurant, complete with noisy kids, harried waiters and people wearing whatever was comfortable - jeans being the general attire of choice. There, they often ran into someone they knew, who usually ended up joining them. However when she told him she had made a reservation at Blackstone, he simply shrugged and said that was fine.

Now, seated at a table in the middle of the room, she could tell he was uncomfortable. He liked to sit in corners or booths and was not really pleased when she asked to be seated someplace “more open.” She had to admit, though, he looked very handsome in the clothes she had laid out for him. In silence they glanced over the menu and when a bread basket was placed on the table, he reached across to grab her hand for the blessing. She felt a little guilty about her momentary embarrassment but wished just this once they could have said an individual, silent prayer. When he finished thanking God for allowing them to see another anniversary and asking his blessing on the food, she lifted her head and glanced around quickly to see if anyone had been watching them. She relaxed when she saw the people at the other tables seemed engrossed in their own conversations.

After the waiter took their order, she leaned back and watched her husband select a hot roll and begin to butter it. Listening to the soft murmuring going on around her, she felt a small frisson of resentment. Oh, she loved him and supposed he loved her. But it was all so familiar. A place like this was wasted on “old marrieds.” There was nothing they didn’t know about each other, nothing that hadn’t been discussed at least twice, nothing that wasn’t a sad shadow of a closer, more intimate time in their marriage. Their only child lived eight hundred miles away and after his infrequent phone calls –and even more infrequent visits – they examined and discussed his life to the point of exhaustion, then went back to talking about the leaking roof and the church bazaar. In her heart she often cried out to the Lord and confessed that she desperately wanted something more. Sometimes He too was silent.

Having finished the first roll, her husband picked up another one. She nodded when he stated how good they were and thanked him when he gave her one. But she didn’t want bread. Deep within her was a hunger that hot buttered rolls would not satisfy, a desire to be touched, stroked, and loved with words. Conversation. In the past, trying to talk to him about her need met with bewilderment on his part and frustration on hers. So she stopped trying. Perhaps she was asking too much.

The waiter returned with their drinks and with a deep sigh, she looked up from her hands, where she had been twisting her wedding band. Reaching for her glass of iced tea, she glanced at her husband and was startled to find that he had been watching her. With an elbow on the table, he was stroking his lower lip with his thumb, a gesture she remembered from their dating days and one which she had always found endearing and, to be honest, sensual. Feeling her face getting a little hot, she became self conscious and with a tentative smile, said “What?” Still looking at her and with the music playing softly in the background, he replied, “I was just thinking of a promise God gave in Isaiah 41:18, to ‘turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs’.“(NIV) He paused for a long moment and then once again stretched his hand across the table, this time in supplication. “Talk to me.”

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This article has been read 552 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/21/10
Oh I could relate to some of the wife's feelings. You did a good job with showing the couple's inner thoughts.
DK Landers10/21/10
I wonder how many "old marrieds" can relate to this story. You do a good job in showing how marriage takes consistent effort from both spouses or communication dies. I like the surprise at the end where he tells her to talk to him. It indicates that he was yearning to rekindle their past intimacy as well, but in dwelling on her needs, she missed it.
Jan Ackerson 10/23/10
This is very well done! Excellent title, and good job of building atmosphere.

Consider breaking the longer paragraphs into slightly shorter ones for greater readability.

I especially liked your description of the small gesture in the last paragraph. Lovely bit of writing.
Author Unknown10/24/10
What a great moment. I kind of wanted her to hand him a copy of Love Languages w/ a post-it marking the Words of Affirmation section for him to read :)

The story itself is really good.

You'll need to be careful about your sentence & paragraph lengths because I found myself almost having to trace it with my finger to follow the thought through. And I know in one sentence you had a point-of-view shift (POV)- the waiter setting the glass down and she sighs but the way it's written it sounds like the waiter sighed. So watch for things like that.

Very descriptive. Very appropriate. and Very sweet. good job.
Genia Gilbert10/24/10
I really liked the warm thoughts and depth of this writing. You did a good job!
Lollie Hofer10/26/10
There are several strong stories in Beginners this week and this one is no exception. You captured your mc's longing and desires quite well. Yes, shorter paragraphs will make it easier to read. BUT still a well-written story with a wonderful ending.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/28/10
Congratulations on a first place win in your level!!
Lillian Rhoades 10/28/10
Congratulations on winning a well-deserved first place!
Keep up the good work! You'll be in Level 2 before you know it.
Henry Clemmons10/28/10
Genia Gilbert10/28/10
Congratulations! I knew the piece was good! Keep wrting.
Mona Purvis10/29/10
Veronica, this is very good and deserving the win as well as top 40. Your style is smooth and your talent very evident. I look forward to reading more of your work. The smaller paragraphs seems to be what we do here at FW. Maybe, we're spoiled readers.

Cheryl Harrison10/29/10
Good job. Congrats on your first place!